Are you ready for some football - some Crenshaw High football?


Our own Crenshaw High School football field got a $3 million makeover, complete with a new type of synthetic grass called FieldTurf, the same surface used by 11 of 32 NFL teams, and the ability to play at night.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is in
the middle of a $20-billion renovation of many of its schools' aging athletic facilities.

"This, in essence, takes away the stigmatism -- the so-called ghetto attitude," football coach Robert Garrett told the LA Times. "There's nothing ghetto about this."


The project, which includes a synthetic track, a new
scoreboard, 25-second clocks, a P.A. system and football and soccer goal posts, included a $200,0000 grant from the NFL.


And here's the story of how Crenshaw got a little attention:

In 2003, Councilman Bernard Parks attended Crenshaw's homecoming game.

But it struck the councilman as odd that the game was held during the day.



"Why do you play it during school hours with no crowd?" Parks asked.



That's simple: Crenshaw's stadium had no lights for night games. Parks found out that 35 years ago the neighborhood around the school did not want any activities held at night.



"But that was 35 years ago," Parks said. "Their athletics fields were in total disrepair. You could tell not much had happened with the field since the school was built.


"Track athletes refused to practice or compete on the Crenshaw track
because it was a dirt track and it caused them a great deal of concern with injuries."



Now the track surface is first-class.



"They see the field and the track and the lights, and it brings the school to the 21st century, where it should be," Parks said. "They are looking forward to having something to set them apart."


Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony featured former Crenshaw athletes Wendell Tyler, the first player ever to lead two different teams in rushing in two different Super Bowls (the LA Rams and the SF 49ers), and Olympic track champion Johnny Gray, winning the bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. (Side note in the Wiki: Having lead the Olympic 800m race at the 1992 Summer Olympics
with a blazing first lap at better than world record pace, Gray was passed twice during the final lap to claim the bronze medal. A reporter later asked him what he would have done differently if he could run the race a second time, and it is rumored that he responded, "I would have taken it out harder." Runners refer to such an attitude as "taking it to the Gray zone" in his honor
.)

Crenshaw (9-4 last year) is a favorite to win their division - only rival Dorsey poses a threat. The Wave says: The Cougars should win the Coliseum League and on the short list of legitimate contenders for the City championship.

Cameron Hart threw for 1,804 yards and 17 touchdowns last year thanks to top target, Kemonte Bateman (profiled in the Times today) with 36 catches for 814 yards, eight TDs. Curtis Price, Jr., ran for 930 yards and five TDs rushing despite sharing the duties with UCLA-star-to-be Raymond Carter a year ago.



"A new field is like a new generation, a new attitude," free safety Davionne Amie said. "Things like that push you toward success more. You don't want to come out here and lose."


The
Greater Crenshaw Bears, a team in rapper-actor Snoop Dogg's nonprofit Snoop Youth Football League, will also play its home games at the stadium, and the facilities will be open to the public.


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